Derby forward Chris Martin emerges as top January target for Sunderland

HITC Sport understands Sam Allardyce is monitoring the Rams striker as Charlie Austin is unlikely to move before next summer.

Derby County striker Chris Martin has emerged as a target for Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce if, as expected, Charlie Austin rejects the chance to leave Queens Park Rangers in January, HITC Sport understands.

Austin has less than a year left on his current deal at Loftus Road and the Hoops are trying to convince him to sign fresh terms.

However, the 26-year-old – who was called into the England squad last season – looks set to keep his options open and instead move on a Bosman free transfer next summer.

Allardyce is one of a number of Premier League bosses who have highlighted Austin as their top target for January, but he is set to be left disappointed, which means other targets are now emerging.

And Allardyce is ready to head the chase for Derby front-man Martin, who has 18 months left on his current deal

HITC Sport understands that Derby are in talks over a new deal for the Scottish international – who was in superb form over the weekend for The Rams.

Martin is set to consider his options, but the former Norwich City man is keen to return to the top-flight and Derby’s resolve to hold onto him could be severely tested come January.

West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace all checked on Martin over the summer, and a number of those sides remain interested.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch